the radical rational…

in search of innovative ideas with a well-balanced approach for the math classroom

Reading in Math Class

For years, I have tried to share a related article as appropriate with my classes.  Often times it was a news article related to a data collection lab.  However, I feel more impact for reading in math class is from informational reading with graphs/data related pieces. 

One day each week, I plan to use a “Laker Literacy” article (named penned by data team in school wide iniative last spring) or  Stat Rat (Graph or Data related piece).

Today, my Algebra 2s read this article from a Quality Core unit on Patterns and Sequences. 


I asked students to number the paragraphs 1-6.  After time to read, they were instructed NOT to answer the questions on the back, but rather as they read each question, make a note of which paragraph from the article could be used in helping them respond to that question.

We will be using the article and questions next class. 


“Smart Talk”

After attending @pispeak’s session on debating in math class st #TMC14 and hearing so much about @cheesemonkeysf’s Talking Points, I wanted to have an anchor chart of sorts for students to refer to, a resource to help them build their accountable talk.

I pulled phrases from Pinterest boards, discussions with others and some of my go-to favorites.

During class the first week, I modeled and encouraged students to agree, disagree, state their claim/warrant, etc.   One student sat up a little straighter as she stated this “smart talk” makes me sound like I know what I’m doing.

So here’s a picture of my board.  I intend to add to it as the year progresses.


What other phrases, sentence starters or questions would you suggest I include?


Goal – Setting on a Small Scale

During summer PD, we had leadership days focused on the 7 Habits.

I am trying to make lists and prioritize my daily & weekly responsibilities.

This weekend, I wondered why I didn’t try to instill this habit in my students as well.

Whether they go to college, the workforce, they will still need to look ahead and plan.


Each student received an index card and asked to respond to…
List things they have coming up this week.
Prioritize 1,2,3 in their list.
What is something they want to accomplish by Friday? Goal
How will they know they’ve accomplished this? Measure
What are things they can do to help reach this goal? Action Plan

It’s been quite a realization to read these cards this afternoon.  Goals are quite varied, but very telling: doing well on ___ quiz, staying ahead of school work, actually paassing all my classes, study for driving permit test, getting derby car ready for weekend, learn 3 new dances before game, buying a doberman, be nice to people (notice this one didn’t say nicer…I believe it – tough one but I plan to encourage), perfect attendance until Friday (from a student with horrible attendance last year), job applications, physical completed for cheer, goal at physical therapy, food for home, earning money for rent…


Yes, we want to begin with the end in mind, but for some students…thinking ahead to the end of the week is a stretch.  Starting small and we’ll expand as the semester progresses.

Yes, this took about 10 minutes of classtime, but I have gained some new perspectives for most students.  Time invested in making connections.

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Week 1 3-2-1 Sunday Summary #MTBoSchallenge


My first week kicked my patootie.  I slept from 6 Friday night until 6 Saturday morning.

I was nervous, anxious about starting school with all of our continued renovation but all in all it was a very smooth start to the year.

3 good things…
Day 1 began with Notice & Wonder of Pascal’s or Sierpinski’s Triangles or some type of data collection activity in every class.  I feel it sets the tone for the year.  I addressed syllabus big ideas throughout the week.

All classes have their INBs set up and ready to go.  Several comments such as you really have thought this through, or do you really research your teaching that much?  Yes.  I have a plan and purpose for just about everything we will do.

Ending the week focused on 1 positive thing from their week was the best way I’ve ever ended week 1…


2 goals for growing…
I downloaded a reflection packet for NCTM Practices to Standards and use it as I read throughout the semester.

Revisit previously read books…Making Thinking Visible and Embedded Formative Assessment.

1 goal for the week-
Get my bulletin boards completed…

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One good thing…


For their exit tickets today, each student was asked to share one good thing about their week.  It could be about class, school, sports, work, family, other activity… 

Some made me smile.  Others made me sad…reminding me this job is about so much more than teaching math.

And my one good thing this week- my students made me smile a lot.

I am grateful for a good start to the new school year.


A Good Start…

Thanks to our GRIT team, this was my view as I waited in the turning lane this morning…


And as students entered the building, the walkway was lined with faculty and staff cheering them on, welcoming them to a new school year.  High fives, smiles and laughter…a great way to start our Monday!

Every staff member had on safety yellow t-shirts with this logo…


With traits we hope to instill in our students each day…


As I looked through my rosters during prep, I was a little nervous.  Not many names I knew. 

My first class attended a school – wide session with our administration sharing their expectations for the year.

Our new principal spoke very direct to our students.  No fluff.  He shared how he used to look at our school and wonder what made us so great, thinking he’d love to work here some day.  He shared that settling was not acceptable.  Our students are passionate in their sports, band, vo-tech & SkillsUSA, FFA, jROTC as they compete at the highest levels – but that’s not enough, we must also be passionate about our academics.  We have a challenge to face, we work hard and practice because we want to win and be our best.

I left today feeling a bit defeated, like I had not connected with most of my students.  Though a few moments I saw twinkle in some eyes as they were thinking.  It was one class of students who have not been successful in math in recent years that what we did felt good and right.

After a few minutes with them, I changed my plans just a bit and went with Pascal’s Triangle and a Notice and Wonder (thanks, Max). 

Did they see all I wanted them to see? No.  But today was about letting their voices be heard, sharing their ideas (no matter how big or small), letting them experience ownership of their ideas.

After a silent (a difficult task for some of them) 2 minutes to simply look, they were given 2 minutes to jot down things they noticed.  Next we were up around the room for a quick, pair-share.  One student asked, “if I hear someone else’s idea and I like it better, can I add it to my list?” Sure!

As I began listing each notice, a student was worried someone else might steal their idea.  I asked, “What if I +1 with your initials beside it, so you can share the idea?”  And that’s what we did. 


Everyone shared something.  I was very intentional to initial their ideas, write their thoughts, without judgement or approval.

We then took 2 minutes to wonder. I called time, and asked them to share.  As I turned to the class after writing the first wonder on the board…I saw nearly every student with hands in the air eager to share.

I smiled and thought…this is how it should be.. it’s going to be a good year.


Progress in Room 123

Our administrators and custodians have gone above and beyond this past week to make our building as presentable as possible.  Never a complaint.  I appreciate their efforts and time. 

My room is as ready as it will be for day 1.  I still have boxes to unpack but the necessities are out.


My new banner from up front…why be average when you can be amazing!  To the right of the board, I plan to list some sentence starters for discussion and writing.


Excited about the door way.  I have post-it ready for students to create a shout-out wall (door)…


This small bulletin board – complete with my thinking poster from @algebrainiac!
I have light bulb post-its to recognize good thinking.


I will post more as I get things going.

My plans for Day 1:

Algebra 2 – Survival Game for theoretical v experimental probability and the law of large numbers;

Geometry – Chaos game, Sierpinski’s Triangle…Notice and Wonder.

Applied Algebra I – begin with Noah’s Ark & whiteboards, set up INBS, A bag of Marshmallow and Spaghetti, just in case.


Dusty. Dirty. Day. In my room…

So my post from yesterday has disappeared. Here’s a mini post…

I arrived Saturday morning to at least a quarter inch of dust coating everything. EVERYTHING.



Grateful to the “fairy workers” who put in long, exhausting hours… and got all the furniture back into Room 123.

Grateful to my parents who came in to help me wash down the walls, scrub my desks and mop the floors.



Room 123 is much, much cleaner now.

And can’t forget to thank my husband for moving my tall, heavy cabinets back in for me and anchoring things to the wall.

I will spend some time this afternoon adjusting for students to arrive tomorrow. Yikes.

More pictures later…

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Some Family Time… non-math

It’s been a good day. 

No alarm set.  I woke up on my own, rested.  My family slept in as well.  Some biscuits and chocolate gravy as a treat for breakfast.

Initially we thought about a road trip to Chatanooga for the Aquarium but then realized we didn’t want to fight traffic on 127…it’s the weekend of the World’s Longest Yardsale.

So, we headed north.  In an effort to miss construction on 65 and destruction (sorry yarsdsale lovers) on 127…we ventured through one of my favorite places… Bardstown-my home for the first 4 years of my teaching career.  A beautiful little town rich in history.

Our first stop in Louisville was Kentucky Science Center.  It was a treat in my younger years to visit here.





A new fun book and thinking cards for my classroom…



We walked down the street to the Louisville Slugger Museum. 


So much geometry here!




An average of 60 billets come from a standard tree.

To hand mill a bat is 20-30 minutes.  The machine used some awesome forms (2d) to mill a bat (3d) in like 30 seconds.  I suppose there’s a calculus application in there as well. 

It was a good day, with family.  Some needed, quality time.  I am so blessed.

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Still Waiting

I knew when a I woke up this morning, it was a day I didn’t need to be around people. 

I had my quiet time.  Some coffee.  Trying to perk a positive attitude.  No dice.

We were told to be at school by 8.  I continued to talk to myself as I drove to school.  I finally arrived to quiet halls, no hustle and bustle of teachers moving furniture.

I walked into the gym to see what I could start moving when a group of colleagues walked in and were told they couldn’t get into their rooms.

No fault to anyone, it just wasn’t happening.  But none of this helped my attitude.  I’ve struggled all day with it.

We (my daughter and her friend) headed out of town.

A stop by KSS landed some new border…


They picked out the paisley for my front boards…I will add magnets and use it to border my white boards.  I went with intentions of getting the gears for my Essential Questions and Math Challenges boards.  The dots for my “Good Thinkers Spotted Here” and a I am not quite sure about the colored pencils, I just liked them.




Each of these 3 finds Target dollar spot.  I am always in need of stickers.  I haven’t quite decide how to use the star post it’s.  But that foam clock can become a unit circle with new labels added.  Ideas?

Who knows when inspection says we can be in.  We are still startinh Monday. Tomorrow though was a preplanned family day…



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